Cholera in Venezuela, Six Cases in Massachusetts
Following on the heels of an outbreak of cholera in Haiti, at least 35 cases have been confirmed in Venezuela, and six cases have been verified in Massachusetts. Countries in South and Central America have increased their vigilance against the intestinal disease.
Cholera cases have been linked to a wedding
According to health officials in the Dominican Republic, the patients who developed cholera were infected after they ate contaminated lobsters during a wedding reception held in that country. The wedding was attended by individuals from several other countries, and cases of cholera associated with the event have been verified in Venezuela, Mexico, Spain (Madrid), and the United States.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio cholera. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that cholera has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and that it produces an enterotoxin that causes severe, painless, water diarrhea that can rapidly lead to dehydration and death if it is not treated quickly. Some patients also experience vomiting.
Cholera has been in the news recently because of an outbreak in Haiti. The Pan American Health Organization reports that as of January 16, 2011, approximately 195,000 cases of cholera had been reported and that 3,819 people had died of the disease in Haiti. In Haiti, cholera was a problem because of the earthquake, as a lack of proper water and sanitation led people to drink water from rivers.
According to the News Telegram in Boston, the Massachusetts Health Department reported that six residents of the state had tested positive for cholera after they had attended the wedding in the Dominican Republic. All the patients, including a young woman, two men, and three children, have been released from hospitals.
Most of the cases of cholera have appeared in Venezuela because that is where most of the wedding guests live. More than 110 cases of the disease have been reported in that country, although not all have been verified. Massachusetts officials do not believe the disease will spread in the state.